by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Biden administration may approve a sanctions waiver on Tuesday that will allow Iran to access at least $10 billion in previously frozen funds held in Iraq, a closely watched decision that comes just a month after the Tehran-backed terror group Hamas launched an attack on Israel that left 1,200 dead.
The waiver would extend the multibillion-dollar sanctions relief first issued in July that expires tomorrow. It allows Iraq to transfer frozen electricity payments into Iranian-owned bank accounts in Europe and Oman. The waiver renewal is driving concerns that the Biden administration is maintaining financial avenues for Tehran as the country’s terrorist proxies foment chaos across the Middle East.
“The world is living in a post-Oct. 7 world, but the White House is still running an Oct. 6 policy toward Iran,” Richard Goldberg, a senior adviser at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and sanctions expert who previously served on the White House National Security Council, told the Washington Free Beacon, referring to Hamas’s attack last month. “Why should Iran have any access to more than $10 billion after sponsoring one of the worst terrorist attacks against American citizens and the worst massacre of Jews since the Holocaust? It would make more sense to freeze all of these accounts and keep every penny out of Tehran’s hands.”
While the Biden administration paused a $6 billion ransom payment to Iran following a pressure campaign in Congress, the Iraq-Europe-Oman sanctions waiver would signal the United States is still trying to provide financial relief to the hardline regime. Iranian military officials warned Monday that the Gaza war has already “spilled over into neighboring Lebanon and may even widen in scope” as Iranian-armed Hezbollah fighters become more active in the conflict. Tehran also has been rallying Arab nations against Israel, threatening to prolong the war and open more fronts.